Bubble fun: 20 big ideas for little kids

Toyota Believe logoWhile lockdown life has been challenging for all families, our thoughts have been with the parents of preschoolers lately – as the playgrounds remain closed, the grandparents remain quarantined (for the most part) and the coffee groups remain online. School-aged kids have distance learning to distract them somewhat, and tweens and teens are enjoying the extra time on their devices – learning, playing and connecting with their friends. But what about the little ones?

They say the days are long but the years are short when it comes to raising a young family. And yes, one day ‘life in a bubble’ will be but a distant memory we’ll reminisce about! Right now, however, you deserve a hug and a high-five (virtual and socially distant, sorry). Wonderful parents of preschoolers – you’re doing an amazing job in these long locked-down days! We’ve brainstormed a list of 20 more things to do at home, in case you’re in need of an activity or ten.

  1. Playing shops
    Grab tins and packets from the pantry, and empty boxes and containers from the recycling, and let your little ones ‘go to town’.
  2. Mermaid bubble baths
    Bath time doesn’t have to be just before bed. Turn it into an afternoon activity with a drop or two of magic. Add some food colouring, bubble mixture, plastic cups and funnels, pop in a toddler or two and let them enjoy a good soak!
  3. Rock painting
    Simple and satisfying, and you could then hide your painted rocks when out on your neighbourhood walk, for other children to enjoy finding. If paints are too messy, a grown-up could paint some undercoat in white, and then kids can decorate the rocks with marker pens.
  4. Play dough
    It’s super easy to make your own play dough, so long as you can get your hands on some flour!
  5. Dress ups
    Kids love dress-ups. Let them have access to your wardrobe and see what outfit combinations they come up with. Put on some music and stage a fashion parade.
  6. Stage a puppet show
    Entertain your little ones with a puppet show behind the couch, and then encourage them to put on a show for you. No puppets, no problem – grab some socks and stick some facial features to them with sellotape.
  7. Design an obstacle course
    Create an indoor (or outdoor, if the weather is nice) obstacle course out of chairs, stools, elastic, cushions, sleeping bags, tunnels, whatever else you can find, for your kids to go up and over, round and through.
  8. Build a blanket hut
    Get the kids to gather up all the blankets and cushions in the house and make a blanket fort in the lounge. A cosy hut is the perfect place to spend the afternoon with a pile of books and some favourite toys.
  9. Freeze stuff
    Put some small treasures in iceblock trays, cover them with water and freeze.Tip the frozen ice cubes out on the deck or path in the sunshine, and let your child play with the melting ‘ice age’.
  10. Bake cupcakes
    And let your little ones decorate them.
  11. Make pikelets
    Pikelets are a great morning tea treat and an easy recipe for little hands to help with, sifting and stirring. The cooking is a bit hot and tricky, but preschoolers will be delighted to help you spot the bubbles popping in the pikelet and can tell you when it’s time to flip (from a safe distance, of course!)
  12. Host a dinner party
    Plan a menu with your preschooler and let them set-up and decorate the dining area for a special meal together.
  13. Design a marble run
    Create a marble run out of anything you can find, then let your little ones redesign it, seeing how far they can get a marble or ball to run.
  14. Blow bubbles 
    If your bubble is fresh out of bubble mix, try and make your own.
  15. Do the dishes
    Preschoolers love the responsibility of a sink full of warm soapy water and a pile of plastic cups, plates and utensils to ‘wash’. Pull up a little chair so they can stand close to the sink, roll up their sleeves and prepare for some puddles on the floor.
  16. Colour/shape/picture scavenger hunts
    Give your child a small basket or container, and set them the challenge of finding five orange things (that will fit in the basket!), then five green things… this activity has just the right amount of challenge and excitement, you might get through several rounds of colours before the novelty wears off! Then you could change it up by challenging your child to find five round items, then five square items. You could also create a scavenger hunt challenge list for the house or garden, using pictures of items your child has to go and find. Think leaves, pegs, small stones, hair clips, something furry, something cold, something edible…
  17. Vaseline saucers
    This is a retro ‘Calf Club Day’ classic – slightly obscure, but creativity and engagement guaranteed! Smear an old plain plate or saucer with Vaseline. Yep. Then gather flowers from the garden with you child – anything with petals will do, daisies and dandelions included. Next your child can gently pick off all the petals and arrange them in patterns ‘stuck’ to the Vaseline on the saucer.
  18. Listen to an audio book
  19. Make a collage
    Grab a pile of magazines, a glue stick and a big sheet of paper and let your kids cut out pictures (or cut them out for them) and arrange them into a collage. No magazines? Supermarket circulars do the trick too, maybe your child could collage their favourite foods.
  20. Hide and Seek
    Everyone can join in with this one, but if you’re needing ten minutes or so to yourself, you could hide your child’s favourite toys and send them on a ‘lion’ or teddy bear hunt around the house with some ‘hot/cold’ clues.

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About Author

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam is a passionate communicator, especially on topics relating to families. After 20 years in Auckland working mainly in publishing, Ellie now lives in Northland, with her husband and their three daughters, where she works from home as content editor for Parenting Place. Ellie writes with hope and humour, inspired by the goal of encouraging parents everywhere in the vital work they are doing raising our precious tamariki.

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